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Angela's Ashes | [Frank McCourt]

Angela's Ashes

Why we think it’s a great listen: There’s no gentle way to put this – Frank McCourt’s performance of Angela’s Ashes is just better than the Pulitzer Prize-winning book. Frank McCourt shares his sometimes heartwarming, sometimes heartbreaking story of growing up poor, Irish, and Catholic in the Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir Angela's Ashes.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: People have called this a sad book. I imagine those are people who read it with their eyes instead of hearing Frank McCourt narrate his story. Those who listen hear the ecstasy in McCourt's exclamations over a piece of bread and an egg and the humor with which he dealt with hardships. Listeners are enveloped by McCourt's brogue, occasional songs, and his joyful spirit. —Beth Anderson

Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, Biography/Autobiography, 1997

National Book Critics Circle, Biography/Autobiography, 1997

Frank McCourt's Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir, movingly read in his own voice, bears all the marks of a classic. Born in Depression-era Brooklyn to Irish immigrant parents, Frank was later raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. His mother, Angela, had no money to feed her children since Frank's father, Malachy, rarely worked, and when he did, he drank his wages. Angela's Ashes is the story of how Frank endured - wearing shoes repaired with tires, begging for a pig's head for Christmas dinner, and searching the pubs for his father - a tale he relates with eloquence, exuberance, and remarkable forgiveness.

Listen to Frank McCourt talk about this book on C-SPAN's Booknotes (7/11/97).

©1997 Frank McCourt, All Rights Reserved; (P)1997 Simon & Schuster Inc., All Rights Reserved, Audioworks is an Imprint of Simon & Schuster Audio Division Simon & Schuster Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Frank McCourt is a marvelous writer whose words are made all the better when he reads them aloud..." (Bookpage)
"...one of the best I've heard in years." (The Boston Globe)
"...so good it deserves a sequel" (The New York Times)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (2648 )
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4.6 (1422 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Debbie Austin, TX, United States 06-08-06
    Debbie Austin, TX, United States 06-08-06 Member Since 2005
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    "Great story teller!"

    I loved hearing Frank McCourt read this book. I also bought 'Tis and Teacher Man. I listened to all three in a row and just ordered the DVD about the McCourt brothers in America. More often, a book bores me after twenty minutes. Less often, it holds my attention. All his books held my attention.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Krykie 10-07-04
    Krykie 10-07-04
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    "A Great Audiobook!"

    The book was good, the audiobook is great! The book is read by the author -- which always makes books better, but with the Irish brogue from the author, it makes it a GEM. This is my all-time favorite audiobook, and I'm not even Irish. It's a great story, a great piece of history, a great autobiography, a great audio story.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Cisneros 07-21-14
    A. Cisneros 07-21-14 Member Since 2013

    emcsmom

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    "Fantastic!"
    Would you listen to Angela's Ashes again? Why?

    Yes and as soon as I finished the book I started it again.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Frank McCort - he brings his story to life. The description of his childhood and the struggles his family endoured. He learned from his father and achieved his goal.


    What about Frank McCourt’s performance did you like?

    again - Frank McCort - he brings his story to life.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I cried and laughed many times through out the book.


    Any additional comments?

    Fantastic book. I am so happy I read it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Arielle T. Crawford 05-10-14 Member Since 2013
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    "BEST AUDIOBOOK EVER"
    What made the experience of listening to Angela's Ashes the most enjoyable?

    Frank McCourt's narration is just so hilarious, by far the best narration of any audiobook ever. It's always better if the author himself can read his work, and in this case, it is so, so good. Frank, I think I love you.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Angela's Ashes?

    Really captures the essence of life - sad, funny and beautiful. My favorite quote - "I'd like to be a saint but if that's what it takes I think I'll just stay the way I am."


    Which character – as performed by Frank McCourt – was your favorite?

    Frankie, of course. I wanted to know more about what happened after coming to America, and what happen with Malachy. Research commence.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Every. Single. Moment.


    Any additional comments?

    If you don't listen to this book you are seriously missing out.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    laurie SARASOTA, FL, United States 05-02-14
    laurie SARASOTA, FL, United States 05-02-14 Member Since 2011

    I have edited 38 national best sellers and had a writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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    "Without question the best memoir ever"

    I have never read a more amazing memoir. McCourt can rip your heart out in one paragraph and make you laugh out loud in the next. This heartbreaking story of poverty in America, then Ireland opens readers' eyes to how a young, innocent boy perceives his piteous life of hunger, prejudice, and loss as perfectly normal. The family struggles to survive, but the loving father's alcoholism and eventual desertion reduces the mother to humiliation and begging and the children to shame and theft. Siblings die; siblings survive. Harsh, judgmental relatives refuse to help. Frank and his brothers make their way in a skewed world where Catholicism causes more guilt and misery than offers comfort.

    So where's the humor? you may ask. Everywhere in their world where the abnormal is normal.

    I cannot recommend this book highly enough. That the author narrates the story of his own life makes it all the more touching.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    N. Barnes 09-30-13
    N. Barnes 09-30-13 Member Since 2011
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    "One of the best audiobooks you'll find"

    As I said for the second volume of Frank McCourt's memoir, 'Tis, this book is incredibly moving, blatantly honest, and delightful to the last drop. Not only do you get the joy of hearing an author read his own book, but this particular author has the gift of the voice as well as of the pen, and adds even more emotion to his narration.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark W. Matthews Fort Worth, Texas 09-23-12
    Mark W. Matthews Fort Worth, Texas 09-23-12 Member Since 2005

    -mwm

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    "an amazing life read by the man who lived it!"
    What made the experience of listening to Angela's Ashes the most enjoyable?

    First, with Frank McCourt reading his memoir, there is an added air of authenticity to his memories and stories. Second, the way he creates the local denizens of his neighborhoods into excellent characters by interacting with them and not over-describing them is refreshing. It is their relationship with "Frankie" that brings the others in this first-person narrative alive, not just his descriptions of them. Finally, his ability to express his internal thoughts, feelings, angst, and frequent consternation is wonderful and developmentally appropriate for the different ages he traverses. When he is five he sounds like he is five; when he is 15 he sounds like he is 15.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    My favorite character is Frankie because he is a lad who had no breaks and continues to plod along and succeed.


    What about Frank McCourt’s performance did you like?

    First, I love his accent. Second, his cadence and intonation provide excellent pacing for the story. Finally, his tone of voice was able to impart wit, humor, irritation, frustration, and irony I am not sure would have been as clearly evident with the written word alone.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    When his young sister dies in New York... very sad.


    Any additional comments?

    I have enjoyed this work so much I have listened to it several times.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    menary kitchen 09-14-12 Member Since 2009
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    "sounds sad but the reader didnt make it so"
    What made the experience of listening to Angela's Ashes the most enjoyable?

    the reader did an excellent job. i wouldve taken it as a sad story but somehow he made it fun and very interesting


    What did you like best about this story?

    the versions of current words that were used. i had to look up terms on the internet


    What about Frank McCourt’s performance did you like?

    the dialect help depict the story


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    i wouldnt have minded


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joy Laurel, MD, United States 03-02-12
    Joy Laurel, MD, United States 03-02-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Didn't think I would enjoy a memoir"

    I am an African American woman living in the U.S. who clearly knew nothing about the Irish. I'm fasinated by this story! It was sad and funny while providing insight into the Catholic church, the oppression of the Irish people told with the innonece of a boy. I doubt that anyone could have read the story better than Frank McCourt. My new favorite book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carin CHARLOTTE, NC, United States 11-17-11
    Carin CHARLOTTE, NC, United States 11-17-11 Listener Since 2009
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    "McCourt's narration makes this book brilliant!"

    When this book first came out in hardcover, it was recommended to me very strongly by someone whose opinion I trusted. I read the first 20 pages, and got so depressed I wanted to kill myself! I put it down and swore never to read it. Even when my best friend forced a copy of it on me 10 years ago. But several years ago, I listened to Teacher Man on audio, and it was great. So I thought that might be the solution for me with Angela's Ashes. Teacher Man was so funny - and I could tell that a large part of that was the way Frank McCourt read the book. He has a terrific voice for these, really expressive and emphatic.

    I am so glad I finally listened to this! I just downloaded the audio of 'Tis, so finish off the trilogy. Frank's story is very sad, but with the audio version, I could see the humor in his tale. The pathos of growing up terribly, terribly poor mostly in Ireland, would be too much to take without the humor. Frank starts off his story by saying that his parents should have stayed in New York, and not gone back to Ireland, however I think they would have been just as bad off in New York, if not worse because there they wouldn't have had even the meager amount of familial assistance that they got, mostly from Angela's family. I must say I was actually pretty impressed with Frank's father, aside from the drinking. Now, if you take away the drinking here's very little left, but in those times he was great. He was never abusive, always supportive and caring. But in the end, he was the reason for the family's downfall.

    But what makes the book is Mr. McCourt's writing. There are thousands of memoirs, but this is the pinnacle of the genre, and it's not because anything particularly unique or interesting happens. It's because Mr. McCourt is a fantastic writer. He really conveys the feeling of living in these hovels in Limerick, but without bogging down the story with a lot of details. At the same time, he has remembered a huge amount of details from when he was a very young child. The story is at times tragic, mostly horrible, and occasionally interspersed with moments of light and hope. I loved it, and listened to it every chance I got. I am really looking forward to 'Tis, even knowing how things work out since I read the last book first! I am so glad I didn't give up on this book, and instead found a way to read it that worked for me.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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